Sunday, 8. December 2013 2:05 | Author:admin
He is a traveler; his face and name is not important. His destination is of no consequence. The only fact that means anything is that he is traveling, and it is cold. The darkening sky promises no respite. Our friend…but can he be a friend when our sole knowledge of him is his state? Perhaps his journey is of malevolent intent; perhaps he is a saint, perhaps he is a bore who insists on trapping his companions into tedious tales of questionable provinance. But our malefactor/saint/bore walks on, knowing he needs to find shelter or risk hypothermia. He has been walking for hours, and he has no hope of reaching his destination before morning. The reasons and merits behind his journey have no bearing on the effect of cold on his limbs; a saint freezes at the same temperature as a fiend. Now he needs warmth, light, and perhaps a little food and drink. More than that, he needs to reconnect to a transactual world, where moneys, ideas, emotions, or physical contact are exchanged in equal or unbalanced deals. What he will do in this marketplace of values, we don't know, and neither does he. But it is cold.
On the horizon line, he sees a faint, but growing light. As he nears, the hope in his mind turns into possibility, into likelihood, into certainty. Beside the light is the unmistakable sign of an inn. He feels the warmth while still at a distance, the muscle memory of many previous inns. As he opens the door and faces comforting smells and voices, he sighs with relief and comfort. As he settles in a chair, half eavesdropping local conversations, half sinking deeply into self, our malefactor/saint/bore feels safe.
When I arrive early to an unfamiliar location, like I did this morning, I drive through the streets looking for a safe haven to fill the time. I scan the streets looking for the familiar logo or text, searching for green amid the confusion of colors and signs. I know if I drive enough city blocks, I'll find it. There it is, Starbucks. I know I will find a familiar way station filled with fellow travelers. I know it is fashionable to look down on cookie-cutter Starbucks, but I know I can count on coffee, warmth, free wifi, a table or soft chair, people to watch, and (as a good friend of mine says) always a clean restroom. It is the modern commons, shared space for individual pursuits, shelter from the storm.
As always, I welcome your comments…be they malevolent, or saintly, or boring.
Image: 'Coffee Break [Explored]'
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22749993@N08/10440330523 Found on flickrcc.net